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Cracking Win by the Badgers

Stroud Men’s U16 Badgers, resplendent in their Ecotricity-sponsored shirts, came from behind on Saturday to conjure a win in the glorious pre-Spring sunshine.  Whatever they had for breakfast was not conducive to playing hockey, however, as they were slow out of the blocks.  Their relaxed attitude clearly masked their true feelings on the matter, however, plus a concerted effort from Alex Richards, Jed Stenning and Joe Freer thwarted an urgent-looking Wotton forward line.  The wake-up call really hit home as keeper Bryn Nicol was beaten.  A couple of substitutions ensued, Jack Thompson and Andrew Reader coming on up front to inject fresh legs.  Clearly the shuffling of players began to work.  Tom Freer and Hamish Norman looked stronger at centre midfield.  Their confident play showed Stroud’s burgeoning passing ability.  In truth, Stroud began to move the ball around with more confidence, encouraged by their adult mentor, Craig Wathen.  Seb Wathen relished his chances to run and some neat moves on both flanks, involving Ed Paddock on the left and Gab Robinson on the right, put the home side firmly on the back foot.  Ed Goulding’s strength and vision offered good support to Norman and Tom Freer.  Wotton were far from beaten, though.  Richards’ pace was called upon several times as Wotton kept two players very high, threatening Stroud on the break.  Joe Freer had an excellent game, showing good control at the back and working hard throughout.  Zac Knight, whose small stature belies his power, came into midfield keen to make an instant impression.  Thompson and Reader worked well together and the latter cracked the ball home for a deserved equaliser.  Stroud smelt more goals and earned a short corner.  Norman’s accurately slapped feed was smashed into the goal by Richards.  The turnaround gave the visitors a 2-1 half time lead.

Encouraged by their lead and buoyed by positive talk at the break, Stroud emerged raring to go again.  Paddock was switched from left to right, initially feeling apprehensive.  He excelled himself, keeping much-needed width to Stroud’s game.  Wotton still threatened, however, scoring an equaliser as they began to work some magic of their own.  The visitors were still prepared to pass much more than in previous weeks, surpassing even last week’s marvellous victory over Gloucester.  Their confidence showed in all areas of the pitch before Thompson cracked the ball home to take the lead once more.  Several saves from Nicol kept Wotton at bay and it really felt as though the next goal would be decisive.  After a brief interlude at centre mid, Paddock was united with Robinson on the left flank and they worked nicely with Norman and Tom Freer to make inroads.  Sustained pressure was soaked up by Knight, now on at right back and Stroud’s own attacking made for end-to-end action.  Some neat passing gave Stroud a few more chances before a clearance from the Wotton keeper went directly to Reader who wasted no time pushing the ball home.  That was that, despite a potentially nervous last 3 minutes.

This was a cracking performance from Stroud – a thoroughly deserved win enjoyed by everyone – the after-match doughnuts tasted ever-so much sweeter !

This entry was posted on 19 March 2012 at 09:44 and is filed under Junior Hockey | Match Reports. You can leave a response here.

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